Are there Excuses for Emotional Abuse and Child Neglect?

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Is there an excuse for emotional abuse and child neglectSometimes it strikes me that my blog may not be “fair” to my mother because I had two parents and the truth is that my father did as much damage in my life as my mother did. Although I want to write about my father, there just isn’t much to write. My father was emotionally unavailable and emotionally absent and by definition my father was emotionally abusive.

My father didn’t contribute much to my life at all. He didn’t pay attention to me, he didn’t affirm me, he didn’t communicate with me in fact I don’t know what role he did play in my life other then financial support while I was growing up. 

I think that my father is dissociated. The “disconnected from the world and from himself” kind of dissociated. Perhaps he has dissociative identity disorder and since that is what I had, I know a lot about it.

My father is passive and apathetic as though nothing matters and nothing impacts him. He refers to himself as easy going. I think that he is passive abusive and as I said emotionally abusive.

Why was my father so apathetic when it came to me? Why did he behave as though I didn’t matter and communicate that message to me through so many of his actions and inactions? Growing up, I didn’t think that it was about HIM. I thought that it was something that was wrong or missing in me.  Realizing that he was dissociated at first made me say “OH YA that makes sense” BUT it didn’t go any distance towards my freedom from the pain I had always had in relation to my emotionally unavailable father.

People say things like “well at least he didn’t beat you.” And I never knew what to say to that. That statement is a guilt trip. It is like saying …“well you should be grateful that he didn’t do anything violent like some fathers do”.  People say things like this as though the good about the fact that he didn’t beat me cancels the bad about the rest of what he didn’t do. Good does not cancel bad. Good is Good and Bad is Bad. Two different things.

In this blog ~ “Truth is Truth”

My father didn’t care about me.  He neglected me. He didn’t engage with me and he wasn’t interested in my life. I don’t remember conversation with him when I was a kid.  That is emotional neglect. I don’t remember any conversation with him that was about ME as an adult either. 

I found the following definitions of Emotional Abuse on the US Department of Health and Welfare site.   

Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child’s emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.

And These from the Department of Justice in Canada;

Neglect is often chronic, and it usually involves repeated incidents. It involves failing to provide what a child needs for his or her physical, psychological or emotional development and well being. For example, neglect includes failing to provide a child with food, clothing, shelter, cleanliness, medical care or protection from harm.3 Emotional neglect includes failing to provide a child with love, safety, and a sense of worth.

Emotional abuse involves harming a child’s sense of self. It includes acts (or omissions) that result in, or place a child at risk of, serious behavioural, cognitive, emotional or mental health problems. For example, emotional abuse may include verbal threats, social isolation, intimidation, exploitation, or routinely making unreasonable demands. It also includes terrorizing a child, or exposing them to family violence.

My father didn’t protect me from my mother.  I don’t remember my mother hitting me with a belt when my father was at home, so he may not have been aware of some of that physical abuse, but this one time she slapped me as hard as she could across the face because I was late getting home.  The truth about that situation was that my father forgot to tell her that I had called and that he had given me permission to stay later at my friends across the street. My father stood there with his mouth hanging open when my mother slapped me.  No one comforted me.  No one supported me.  He didn’t protect me. He didn’t say anything to her in front of me to validate me or stand up for me. I was hit and it was a mistake ~ but so what?? Who cares about Darlene? She is “just a child”. 

My father failed me. There is just no denying it and believe me I tried to deny it for most of my life. I tried to tell myself that he was busy and that he had an important job. I told myself that his mind was elsewhere and it needed to be so that he could provide for us. I was in effect telling myself that his actions were correct… that he had many things in his life that were far more important than I was and that I was the one with the problem for feeling unworthy and unlovable.  

But really, are there excuses for emotional abuse and child neglect?

The truth is that it doesn’t matter even if my father had some unknown disease that caused him to completely detach from me for some unknown reason… the damage was done and it is the damage that needs to be dealt with instead of excused by finding out the answer to the WHY questions.

Deciding that my father fits the description of being dissociated did not contribute in any way to how I was able to heal from the damage that his lack of interest and emotional neglect of me caused.  Like the above definition states ~  “Emotional neglect includes failing to provide a child with love, safety, and a sense of worth…” And that IS the damage that was caused by my fathers inability to have any kind of real relationship with me.

The real emotional healing came with self validation. I realized that just because my fahters actions and ill regard for me showed that I was invalid and unimportant in his life did NOT prove that I was invalid and unimportant.  The fact that my father didn’t hit me or even yell at me did not make him a good father.  The way that he regarded me fits the descriptions of emotional abuse and child neglect. The fact that he didn’t even bother with me is the fact that I had to deal with. The damage that he caused to me by his emotional neglect and passive abuse is what I had to face in order to overcome that damage.

My father was emotionally unavailable and emotionally abusive. His lack of contribution in my life was his fault and it defines him. NOT ME. 

Please share your thoughts about the subject of child neglect, emotionally abusive or emotionally absent fathers, focusing on the damage instead of the reason or anything else that you wish to share here.

This is the truth that set me free.  

Darlene Ouimet

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97 response to "Are there Excuses for Emotional Abuse and Child Neglect?"

  1. By: Meli Posted: 14th July 2017

    Thank you for this post, very well explained, it’s like I was reading my own story. I had exactly this type of father, very neglectful and disconnected, and on top of that, very critical, judgmental, and always comparing me with others. Very blind and shameless, never admitting his mistakes and allowing my mother to threaten me, and also allowing my mother’s beatings. What a great set of parents!
    I am healing now from all abuse and emotional neglect I received. I suffered from depression and anxiety. I am learning now how to love, accept and approve of myself as I am. Reading books about childhood abuse and practicing meditation to overcome such awful neglectful childhood. My brother still somewhat in denial about this, he thinks I exaggerate the past too much, he received the same level of abuse as me. But well I just have to care about me now, and not past this hurts onto another innocent beings.
    Thanks for your post, thanks for making emotional abuse known. I feel validated that how I feel it’s not only in my head.

  2. By: Karen Tinnes Posted: 25th November 2016

    I happened upon your blog after googling “mothers who can’t love” and you are seriously saving me. I relate to every single word you are saying here. I am 59 yrs old still trying to get my family to love me. My mother has treated me like crap all my life and still is. She talks about me to all my siblings and cousins and aunts about how I am abusing her and how I was such an awful child and how I am the only one in the family who acts out, etc. None of my siblings, cousins or aunts talk to me because they all believe her. They do not know the whole story, but my mom has to defend herself by making it all my fault. I grieve every single day. I wake up hurt, go through the day trying to understand why I am singled out, and unloved and go to bed feeling incredibly alone and flawed. No matter what I do or say makes no difference to these people. I am seriously hurt and don’t know what to do for myself. You are helping me. THank you so very much for sharing this information to me, who can related to everything you say.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 26th November 2016

      Hi Karen T.
      Welcome to EFB! I am so glad you are here! There is a ton of info on this blog ~ over 450 articles all with discussions so you can read stories from others too. Thank you for sharing, you are not alone in this!
      Hugs, Darlene

  3. By: Mercedes Posted: 30th May 2016

    “People say things like this as though the good about the fact that he didn’t beat me cancels the bad about the rest of what he didn’t do. Good does not cancel bad. Good is Good and Bad is Bad.”

    I would take it a step further. “Not beating” is neutral — not good, not bad. Good is loving, supporting, nurturing… And if good cannot cancel bad, then certainly neutral cannot cancel bad.

  4. By: Light Posted: 20th March 2016

    Darlene and all,

    I went through child neglect (and am still neglected as an adult). My feelings and needs would be ignored, or provided for minimally. Emotional needs were extremely neglected, and to this day my mother doesn’t stand with me in the face of my father’s sexual abuse, and she devalues my experience. Sometimes she was semi-supportive, then she would take all/part of it back. Lots of inconsistency in many areas of my life. Just trying to get her to talk about it took an enormous amount of energy from me.

    As for “well at least you didn’t get beaten” my thought is that it is an emotional beating. The black and blue is on the inside. When an important person such as a parent is so unresponsive and doesn’t care the silence is deafening, the endless days of non-connection so isolating, the void so deep that a child’s tears could never fill it.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st March 2016

      Hi Light
      I hear you on all of this! I found it exhausting too and that is partly what led to the lack of relationship we (don’t) have today. I was exhausted. :/
      I find it so dismissive when people make “well at least you didn’t” statements. I always ask them to expand by saying “what do you mean by that??” or “what does that mean? What are you saying?”
      Thanks for sharing.
      Hugs! Darlene

  5. By: Light Posted: 20th March 2016

    Ellie, You are an eloquent writer even though the words are painful to read. I read your story and I am so sorry you had to go through that haze of negativity and craziness and dysfunction. You came up with many good ideas and questions for those in positions of caring for children to consider.

  6. By: Ellie Posted: 20th March 2016

    Darlene,

    I’ve read many of your Blog pages, now, with a huge sense of interest. It’s good to know that there ARE people out there who understand what it is like to grow up in a dysfunctional family. It’s also good to share experiences – it’s validating. The problem with abuse, or so I’ve discovered, is that even if you try to report it, even if you go to people to try to get help, they often ignore you or, worse, refuse to believe you. That is what I found; that many of the people in my life whom I hoped might help me escape the abuse, did absolutely NOTHING to help. Indeed, some of them did things that actually made it worse.

    I haven’t really said much about my upbringing; I wouldn’t really know where to begin. Suffice it to say that I can identify with much of what is on your website. I’d say that, in their own ways, BOTH of my parents were abusive. I find that hard to accept, and I can tell you for a fact that they would deny it, but I know now that it IS true. I have a LONG list of incidents that I can remember that show the different ways in which they were abusive. Furthermore, our relationship even as adults is so uncomfortable, that I can no longer cope with having physical contact with my parents.

    My mother has mental health problems, and I think this contributed to all that went on. She had an episode shortly after I was born, and I have often felt that BOTH parents somehow negatively associated ME with my mother’s illness (blaming me for it?). MY mother’s mental illness was supposed to be kept secret – I was not supposed to know about it, or ask questions. Still, I found out that she was mentally ill whilst I was still at Infant School. My parents had clearly told adults about my mother’s illness (including teachers, and parents of some kids I was at school with). I was bullied relentlessly at school by kids who had found out (probably from their parents) that my mother had mental health problems. Could I tell my parents about the bullying? NO! That meant telling them I knew about my mother’s illness, and that wasn’t allowed. Imagine being in THAT double-bind!

    My mother was never what I would describe as physically abusive, but I’d class her as verbally abusive, and psychologically manipulative. I remember when I was little, she would sit us in front of the mirror, and ask “Who is the prettiest?”. The answer was always “Mummy”. She didn’t tell me that I was pretty. Indeed, she made me believe otherwise; she would compare me unfavourably to my female cousins, saying how pretty they were. There was always one cousin in particular – a girl born barely a month before me. Ironically, this was the daughter of an Aunt and Uncle who’d helped care for me when my mother had become mentally unstable (I often wonder if my parents would have preferred to exchange me for that child, and make my Aunt and Uncle keep ME).

    My mother was what I would now term a “nag” – she “nagged” me. It’s as though she felt it necessary to constantly remind me about my appearance and behaviour. When I was little (pre-puberty!) she would lay clothes out on my bed for me to wear, I never made my own choices. Believe me, I initially thought that was quite nice; nowadays, I feel that it would have been nicer to be able to decide for myself. When I hit my teens and decided that I would choose what I wanted to wear, my mother was highly critical of my appearance. Short skirts were “tarty”, jeans “scruffy”… My mother seemed to live constantly in a state of “Ooh, what will the neighbours think?”. She seemed to feel that constant comparisons to others, and constant reminders of what was “unacceptable” were necessary. She would often comment about school grades, pointing out to me what good grades were, and what people thought of kids who got bad grades. When I went to University, she pointed out a Newspaper article that she had claimed to find, in which she said that the author wrote that “Students who get below a 2:1 level Degree are classed as having Drinker’s Degrees, because the level of Degree you get represents the level of work you put in, and to get below a 2:1 the inference is that you must have been partying all the time at University, instead of working”. I cannot forget this, because it sums up the very worst of her addled thinking. I never actually SAW the newspaper, so it may NEVER have existed. Still, to make so many false assumptions! A student may be doing REALLY WELL at University, but become ill and drop grades as a result, so that when they get their final Degree classification, it is lower than expected because of the grades dropped during their illness. A student may have a disability, or other personal problem, which makes it difficult for them to study, so that the level of Degree they get genuinely represents the peak of their ability. A student may be thrown off track by suffering a bereavement, or a break-up of a relationship, and this can affect their studies. A student may not like the course that they are studying, but due to family pressure, be unable to alter it. Should we criticise people in such situations, if they find they cannot achieve a high level of Degree?

    My mother also used me, from a pretty young age, as her “counsellor”. She would tell me about the problems in her own family background. Now that I am an adult, I realize just how inappropriate some of the things were that she was telling me at such a young age. WHAT was I expected to do? Did she not realize that some of what she told me might freak me out, upset me or scare me? Did she not understand that, when she told me things about OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS, especially negative things, it might affect MY relationship with these people?

    Like my father, my mother was also a person who believed negative things about me that other people said. She did this WITHOUT ever giving ME a chance to explain myself. I recall an occasion shortly after I had started dating. My best friend at the time was envious because she did not have a boyfriend. So, she went to my parents, and told them that they boy I was dating was “bad” or “a bad influence” (I discovered this after the event). Rather than ask ME about what was going on (I could have told my parents that actually, the boy in question was the son of my School Geography Teacher, so NO risk there; and, besides, I wasn’t really that keen on him), my parents got angry at me. Ironically, the relationship with the boy petered out anyway, so my parents need not have panicked!

    As to my father… I feel nauseated just writing about HIM! Cold, stern, emotionally frigid, physically and emotionally unavailable, aloof, arrogant, bossy, intimidating, short-tempered, loud-mouthed, self-absorbed, angry, domineering, self-important, controlling, devious, lying, fake, pretentious, workaholic, secretive, dismissive, two-faced, dictatorial, hypocritical…

    Those words flow like melted butter – they crowd into my head so quickly. I only have to THINK of my father, and these are all the words that fill my head. He will be forever associated with DEEP and PROFOUND HURT. He makes me feel like NOTHING. Like I don’t deserve to exist. He is simultaneously so in your face, and so distant as to be genuinely scary.

    I have always wondered why, when my mother became ill, my father did not step up to the plate, and take care of me? Why was I sent to my Aunt and Uncle? I wonder if, even at a young age, he cared about me. I have the impression that he must always have been more concerned about himself, than he was about me.

    I cannot talk with my father about the above issue, nor, indeed, about ANY issue in our relationship. It is forbidden! My father keeps secrets, and has “taboo” subjects that he will NOT talk about. Including my mother’s mental health. Including my upbringing. If you try to talk about things, he starts out by looking stunned, then quickly moves to agitated and angry – he will then start shouting and screaming and swearing. If you persist after this point, he will become physical (hitting, shoving, grabbing). By the time he has reached agitated stage he is usually red-faced, snarling like a bulldog, spittle on his lips, and right up in your face – literally inches from you, eyeballing you. I am TERRIFIED of this man and his aggression to this very day. I want to know what he has to hide. It’s clearly something he so desperately wants to hide that he is prepared to destroy his relationship with his daughter (me) over it!

    Memories of him are often associated with aggression. I remember the man who, when he got home from work, would move me off the kitchen table (where I was trying to complete my homework), put the radio on really loud, demand his meal, and SHOUT. He might then even go through to the living room, and turn the television on (leaving the radio on as well). The NOISE would drive you nuts! If I asked him to turn the radio down so I could concentrate on my homework, he would TURN IT UP. Keep asking, he would get angry, shouty and threaten “a good hiding”. My mother, if present, did nothing to intervene. Neither parent ever offered to help me with my homework!!! I take it they weren’t interested.

    I remember the man who took NO interest at all in my interests – neither my passions at School, nor my hobbies. MY hobbies all had to cease, anyway, after my younger sibling was born. Instead, pretty much every weekend was spent on watching my brother play cricket; my parents must have spent a fortune on buying him cricket kit, and on taking him to and from matches. I had loved ballet and horse riding, but those activities ceased for me. Family holidays even included taking us all to watch a test cricket match; I never had a family holiday where the family took us to see a ballet. As to my interests at School, I doubt my father would even have KNOWN what I was interested in. He asked NOTHING about my School days, nor did he (or my mother) help with schoolwork – which is ironic, given that they were so keen for me to get high grades! The one thing my father DID do was criticize the subject that I said I wanted to study at University. As far as he was concerned, English Literature was “piss assed”, and did not lead to “a proper job”.

    I don’t recall much time spent with my father, increasingly so as I got older. Yes, I know he hated the way I dressed, and the Goth/rock music I listened to. Still, I was his daughter, and maybe if he’d understood that I had NO self-confidence because of bullying at school, he’d have understood why I dressed the way I did. Instead, he just moaned at me for the way I looked.

    I don’t think that I really want to discuss much more of what happened between myself and my father. Suffice it to say that as I grew older we did NOT see eye-to-eye. Any dispute with him usually ended up with punishment (my parents believed in smacking as a punishment). I disagree that my father simply “punished” – he went WAY beyond that. HE HIT ME. I need to get that out there! He screamed at me, yelled at me, shouted at me. He called me names. He made false promises, and broke them (he said he would buy a dog as a family pet, and even got me to look through adverts to find a puppy, but he NEVER bought one). He made me feel that the things I loved to do, the things I was good at, were pointless. He made me feel unattractive. He made me feel second-rate in comparison to my brother. He always had different rules for me and my brother; my brother lived by much more lenient rules, and could stay out late at night without getting in trouble. He spent more time with my brother. He always excused my brother’s mistakes, but not mine (he let my brother drop out of University, and get a girl pregnant). He lied, he obfuscated, he kept secrets, he denied the facts, he perverted the truth, he threatened, he intimidated…

    I guess you could say that BOTH my parents were emotionally abusive. They play mind games to this day. That is why I can no longer cope with seeing them. It is far too painful. It is notable that the definitions you give from Canadian and U.S. Government websites, explaining emotional abuse, point out that it is often thought difficult to prove, and that because of this, intervention is often lacking. I live in the U.K. and here it is much the same.

    Personally, I cannot for the life of me understand why Governments and other aid agencies find it so hard to intervene where there is emotional abuse going on. Why they have to wait until severe damage is done. They argue that it is hard to prove. I don’t believe that’s true. It is NOT hard to prove. People CAN tell when a child is being emotionally abused. The first sign is to look for changes in the child – has the child become unhappy, withdrawn, more clingy, secretive, suspicious, tense, nervous? A child WILL change in response to emotional abuse. Then, you should ASK THE CHILD!

    Ask the child about how the child’s parents speak to him or her. Ask the child what the child has grown up believing about him/herself. Ask the child if the child believes he/she is good or bad, clever or stupid, pretty or plain… a NEGATIVE response should indicate to you that something worrying is going on. Children do NOT automatically think negative thoughts about themselves. Ask the child about what it feels like to live at his/her house. You can then gauge if there is a lot of negative tension. It may not be easy to do this, and you will have to approach the child VERY sensitively… But surely it is better than standing by and doing NOTHING?

    If a child has revealed to you something problematic about their home life, again, it makes sense to report this to people who can investigate it further. I DO NOT believe that the authorities are powerless to prove emotional abuse. Indeed, I believe that it can be proven by carefully interviewing the child’s parents. Separately from the child. If there is incongruity between what the child, and the parents, say this should be a warning sign. If there are, as you call them, “truth leaks” in what the parents say, this should be a warning sign. Truth leaks may well happen when an abusive parent is asked directly about his/her relationship with the child. They may be as small as a gesture or a facial expression – for example, you ask the parent about the child and the parent momentarily turns their nose up, or frowns – but they may be there. Again, if parents seem to make up excuses on the fly, this could be a red flag. Or, if parents seem overly eager to appear impressive – listing all their “positive qualities” for the interviewer to hear, such as they are “always buying the kid new toys, and have just joined their child’s school board of Governors, and, by the way, did you know that daddy is a Freemason, and mummy donates regularly to Oxfam, and they only eat organic food… blah… blah…” Parents THIS eager to impress clearly wish to deflect attention from something less impressive.

    I cannot help but think that far too little is done to help the victims of child abuse, and to protect kids from abuse. It is usually only the really dreadful cases that come to light – like when a kid actually DIES. Talk about too little, too late. In my own case, the authorities KNEW (and still KNOW) that my mother suffers mental ill health. She is under a Psychiatrist! Surely, if the authorities (including providers of medical care, local authorities, teachers, health visitors…) KNOW that a child’s parent is mentally ill, they should be providing EXTRA care and protection to that child? They should be aware that the child’s family life may be difficult? In my case, they were FULLY AWARE, but provided NO support to ME whatsoever. They simply LEFT ME AT RISK.

    No wonder we still hear of child deaths at the hands of abusive parents! It seems to me that the powers that be simply do not know, or do, enough.

  7. By: Steve Posted: 9th October 2014

    My father was emotionally absent from the perspective of not caring about me, but not absent, unfortunately, the rest of the time, as his presence meant screaming, hitting and throwing things without warning, to let off steam or whatever it was that caused him to be a raving mad man.

    This article as with so many here on EFB resonates with me and helps me so much.

    Reading the definitions of abuse from our Canadian and U.S. governments just reaffirms and confirms that gut feeling I’ve always had about what constitutes abuse.

    It is finally mattering less to me whether or not my own family will ever admit to all they did to me and one another growing up.

    The healing for me, is in reading these words on EFB and those gov. websites, telling me, you aren’t crazy, I didn’t imagine it and that it was just wrong and harmful!

    But perhaps the biggest healing comes from your words Darlene: “My father was emotionally unavailable and emotionally abusive. His lack of contribution in my life was his fault and it defines him. NOT ME.”

    Such a simple truth, and yet so incredibly freeing, as my whole sense of being was made to TRY to get the approval and love from my parents that never came.

    What an incredible relief this provided to me tonight.

    Also for me, forgiveness (and peace) has been coming and in a more genuine way, rather than a forced way, as a result of my own healing, rather than out of the “honor thy mother and father” basis with which I was raised, and strove to forgive previously, before I had done any healing.

    I do not mean to judge anyone who feels otherwise with regard to forgiving, as we are all individuals, just sharing how forgiveness has “worked” more so, for me.

  8. By: John Posted: 15th September 2014

    Was glad to read your blog. I’m just coming to terms with the fact that I was emotionally abused as a child. I knew things were not right, I’ve known for years something has held me back. Lack of trust, low self esteem, living in complete fear.

    I’ve recently had a situation arise that caused me to have a nervous breakdown, I just wasn’t able to cope with it and it broke me. I started searching for answers after I felt better, I saw a pattern emerge as I looked back over the years.

    My dad verbally and emotionally abused me. I had held on to memories, once he told me, at age 6 that, “he could kill me and he’d have to go to prison, but that would be ok”, he was critical, mean and hateful. He was, and is, a selfish person. He had gotten my mom pregnant, they had to get married, and I guess he saw me as the fault. I caused him misery. I stood in the way of a life he couldn’t have. I don’t know what his thought was, and the good thing is, I don’t care anymore. I had tried to rationalize what happened to me for over 37 years. And I’ve come to a point were I am done. His faults are just that, his faults. His problems are his problems. All those many years ago he locked that scared little 6 year old boy in a prison of self loathing, of hating myself, of being unable to live normally. I realize now, as a man, that have I the key to get out of that prison, its letting go and forgiving him, but not diminishing, not for a moment, what he did to me.

    I’m just starting, there is a lot of pain to unravel over a lot of years, right up to today. I have to process it, understand it and then let it go. I am not defective, I didn’t ruin his life, I am worthy, I deserved a Hell of a lot better than I got from him. I am NOT him, I will not hurt anyone anymore, inflict my grief or anger or pain on anyone. I will in time forgive, for ME, because I need to get out of the prison his horrible actions put me in, but I won’t forget, not ever. I have to remember so that I never hurt anyone, even him. He doesn’t even deserve to be treated as badly as he treated me. I know this will be a process, but I’m glad, I’m glad to be able to say, I was abused, and I survived, I will survive and this truth will set me free.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th September 2014

      Hi John
      Welcome to EFB ~ YES you did deserve a hell of a lot better!
      I can relate to so much of what you shared. This entire website is about the key ~ the key is in you. I don’t agree that the key is in forgiveness, but that is totally up to you. For me, forgiveness was a result of the healing process but not the goal. The goal is healing in order to take back what was stolen from us; our lives. You have found the right place to share and to read.
      Hugs, Darlene

  9. By: Connie Posted: 18th November 2013

    Emotional abuse/neglect is a cancer which is eroding our society, and no one wants to talk about it (except EFB, that is). I grew up in a family with 12 siblings. Physical and sexual abuse were present for some of my siblings and me, but 90% of the abuse, no doubt, fell under emotional abuse and neglect. For decades my siblings and I excused the abuse by believing “They did the best with what they knew” or “No one meet the needs of 13 children.” Finally, at age 53, when my emotional and mental health had become so bad I feared being institutionalized, I looked at what REALLY happened to me and just how severe the abuse was.

    Darlene, you say in your article that you never had a conversation with your father. I can say the same thing about both of my parents. Furthermore, my mother never once told me she loved me, or comforted me when I skinned my knee. She never said “good job” for getting straight A’s on your report card again. Never once was I greeted when I returned home from school by a parent who asked, “how was your day, Connie?” Why I never saw that this was emotional abuse at extreme levels is because I had the belief that I didn’t deserve the same treatment I tried to give my daughter when she was growing up, or the love that I shower my grandsons with today. Many times it helped me to see the abuse by visualizing my grandson’s in a situation from childhood, and trying to see how I would feel if they were treated the same way….most of the time I was absolutely horrified by the results. Using this method really helped me to see the abuse I suffered through. I think this can be difficult for people who were neglected. The nature of the abuse causes extreme self-esteem issues, which makes it even harder to see the abuse. We just think we are not good enough for special treatment.

    My father died about 15 years ago. My mother is still alive, but I cut contact with her about 6 months ago. I do blame my Mother more than my father. I have examined this recently and these are the reasons I came up with as to why I blame her more:

    1. I do actually have memories of my Dad kissing me (and my siblings) good bye every morning when he went to work.

    2. My mother spent her life blaming him for everything and trying to make herself a martyr (I believe that is why she had so many children….to elicit sympathy from others).

    3. My siblings and I went along with my mother for decades and blamed our father for everything that was wrong….when really my mother’s narcissism not only ruined the lives of her children, but had a strangle hold on my father his entire life.

    Out of my 12 siblings I now only have a relationship with 2 sisters, who also have seen the truth. Two of my siblings are dead, and the rest are still so much in denial and dysfunction it has become impossible to have a healthy relationship with them. They are toxic and they will hurt you if you engage with them.

    I pray for strength for myself and everyone who is struggling to comes to terms with the abuse they suffered through, and for the millions of children who still suffer everyday. Acknowledging the truth is the first step to making our society a kinder, gentler place for children. Here’s a excerpt from a website I recently visited:

    What Are the Effects of Emotional Abuse?
    Douglas Besharov states in Recognizing Child Abuse: A Guide for the Concerned, “Emotional abuse is an assault on the child’s psyche, just as physical abuse is an assault on the child’s body”(1990). Children who are constantly ignored, shamed, terrorized or humiliated suffer at least as much, if not more, than if they are physically assaulted. Danya Glaser (2002) finds that emotional abuse can be “more strongly predictive of subsequent impairments in the children’s development than the severity of physical abuse.”

    An infant who is severely deprived of basic emotional nurturance, even though physically well cared for, can fail to thrive and can eventually die. Babies with less severe emotional deprivation can grow into anxious and insecure children who are slow to develop and who have low self-esteem.

    Although the visible signs of emotional abuse in children can be difficult to detect, the hidden scars of this type of abuse manifest in numerous behavioral ways, including insecurity, poor self-esteem,destructive behavior, angry acts (such as fire setting and animal cruelty), withdrawal, poor development of basic skills, alcohol or drug abuse, suicide, difficulty forming relationships and unstable job histories.

    Emotionally abused children often grow up thinking that they are deficient in some way. A continuing tragedy of emotional abuse is that, when these children become parents, they may continue the cycle with their own children.”

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 18th November 2013

      Hi Connie,
      Thank you for sharing this great information. I am going to use some of it for quotes on the EFB facebook page. It is amazing how shocking and at the same time healing it is when a victim of this kind of abuse is able to see some of these definitions in writing.
      Thanks for sharing!
      Hugs, Darlene

  10. By: Lora Posted: 17th November 2013

    Hey Darlene! once again truly amazing. I feel like I was seeing my own thoughts in a mirror as I read this.

    I know more about my parents than they know about me and that’s how I learned to make excuses for their behaviour. My dad was abandoned by his father at birth and rejected by his step father. I was a very curious child and tried to make sense out of things I couldn’t understand. I asked a lot of questions and just figured things out by watching people interact with each other.

    I took everything on as my fault because that seemed to be the path everything led too. My birth caused so much stress on the family that it was easy for me to believe I was the problem. It was clear that being ignored by my father was my fault because after all he really didn’t want me and he had no clue how to be a dad. My mom was a martyr and what she wanted she got at any price. Once I learned that my dad was an enabler it changed my who perspective. Once I learned to educate myself on the cycle of abuse, my denial bubble had be burst and there was no going back.

    I am truly amazed at the damage two people that supposedly love you can do. In our family it was ok to treat your children as sex toys, slaves and punching bags. Gee I wonder why I didn’t want children? Is it possible that I managed to have a little piece of love still in my heart that said children deserve to be treated so much better than this? I didn’t know I could heal from all this damage and maybe if I did I may have chosen to have a family of my own. I’ve accepted my choice I just feel sad that my choice was influenced by the way I was treated. I didn’t have faith in myself that I could be a good mother, I assumed I would be the same way so I gave up my right to re produce.

    My parents are just sperm donors to me now. They brought me to this planet and now I need to sort out why a loving god wanted this for me. I’m sure there has to be a good reason for me to be here but for now it’s just about me learning to love myself and I trust the rest will be revealed in time.

    Thanks to all you brave souls for coming forth and believing that you deserve to be loved unconditionally. I wish I had a magic wand that could heal all your wounds so you would remember that you are pure, loving beings and nothing that happened to you was ever about you not being loveable. I hope you never, ever give up on believing in yourself. You are never alone in this journey, always remember that. Thank you Darlene for creating a safe place for us all to heal in. Namaste!

  11. By: Chara Posted: 16th November 2013

    My mother had this belief that the dad was to love the mother and the mother was to love the children. So she kept my dad separated from us for most of my life. He died when I was a teen ager. He worked evenings and weekends, and when both he and I were actually home at the same time, he spent most of his time in a workshop where we weren’t welcome. My dad was the child of a neglectful narcissistic mother, so I’m guessing he didn’t know the difference or was so beaten down and resigned to his own unhappiness that he didn’t care about mine. He frequently said things like I didn’t know what mean was, when I tried to complain to him about my mother’s abuse. I remember my mother telling me around age 12 that I was NEVER to bother them if she went to dad’s workshop because they were “very busy doing things I wouldn’t understand”. (Said with a smirk and a narcissistic glow.) So I never knew if I was allowed near my dad or not. I do remember complaining to him about my mothers beatings (which were very sadistic and cruel) and he would accuse me of lying, and would say I didn’t know what a beating was.

    Shortly before he died, when I was still a teenager and in high school, I had worked very late (I had two jobs) and then stayed late doing volunteer work (maybe 11pm or midnight) and I was exhausted. My dad picked me up at the volunteer place and stopped to buy cigarettes for himself and my mother and a convenience store. I fell asleep in the car while he was in the store, and when he got back in the car he flipped out on me for sleeping, saying anyone who walked past the car would think I was drunk. That was pretty typical of my family. As the scapegoat, most things were my fault somehow, and I really did believe them. I was so ashamed for having fallen asleep and potentially bringing humiliation or shame on my family, when – in hindsight now – I was an amazing kid. Two jobs. Volunteer. Student. They should have been proud of me. Many days as a teen I was gone 18 hours a day, and no one ever missed me, or even said they were concerned about me working so much – they were glad I was gone. I was probably glad to be gone, too.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 16th November 2013

      Hi Chara
      It really terrible that what at first glance seems to be concern, (that you may have been in danger because you feel asleep) upon closer inspection was really about them and what people might think! Those are the things that give us all those false messages about who we are and tear down our self esteem.

      YES they should have been proud of you. That is such amazing self validation!
      Thanks for sharing,
      hugs, Darlene

  12. By: Jamie Posted: 31st October 2013

    Thanks. This shed a lot of light on my childhood and I can see myself in you and what you dealt with. My father’s best friend was his TV and his “stories”. He was RARELY there when I needed him and I can’t remember a time when he gave me advice that did not sound like it came from The Waltons. My mother played both roles of mother and father. She showed me how to throw a baseball, how to stand up for myself in 5th grade, and how to accept who I am.

    My parents divorced when I was 15 (I am 24 now) and he has tried and tried to cheat his way back to the house by saying “he changed”. It’s a constant lie he fed us and would then turn around and repeat the same abuse he in the past portrayed.

    So now I know it wasn’t my behavior. Thank you. I appreciate you for writing that.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 31st October 2013

      Hi Jamie
      thank you for sharing and welcome to EFB!
      Hugs, Darlene

  13. By: piya Posted: 27th February 2013

    Hi Darlene,

    you have often written about depression, PTSD etc
    But i want to let you know that i suffer from Erotomania
    Its a kind of delusional disease caused due to neglect and abuse
    My life was a wreck due to this disease
    And i have still not got hold on it
    I keep thinking about this guy i met 4 years back
    i chased him, harassed him, followed him and kept on calling him
    He is married and so am I
    At that point of time i couldnt understand why i was doing it all
    But then i understood that i suffer from this dangerous delusional disease
    My life story is similar to yours. My father was disfunctional, psychotic
    My mom narcissistic and abnormal
    All my relatives up against me they wanted to destroy me completely
    Do you also have issues with OCD and any solutions

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 27th February 2013

      Hi Piya
      Welcome to EFB
      Thank you for sharing about Erotomania. I have not heard of that before.
      I don’t have any OCD issues but the solutions presented here in this website have been helpful for all kinds of issues and many people have reported good results with OCD.
      EFB is about dealing with the root causes and changing the belief system that formed because of those root causes. I hope you will find some good info here.
      Hugs, Darlene

  14. By: Amber Posted: 21st September 2012

    First of all, I’d like to say thank you to all you who showed courage in posting their stories. I know from experience that it isn’t easy to do so.

    I can completely relate to your stories and add more to it with mine. My father was physically, emotionally and verbally abusive. Although I escaped his torture 10+ years ago to find a better life, he still continues to mentally abuse me and my siblings by through abusing my mother and he isn’t ashamed of admitting it. He hated the fact that I escaped him at the age 21 and are now successful in life. He always wanted the worst for me and still wishes for me to be dead. The only crime I ever committed was being born in this family and the cost of it was far greater than I could have ever imagined.
    I am 32 years old now and have come to terms with the abuse I suffered throughout my life and realized that some people will continue to get pleasure out of controlling others’ and their minds, and that’s who my father is. I can’t help him but pray that someday this ends for my mother, my siblings and myself.
    On a more positive note, I am a successful professional woman, with a healthy family of my own and a husband who is truly one in a million. So there is always a happy ending to every story, but you just have to allow the good things to happen to you. It’s not your fault that your father did this to you; it is who he is just like you said. Stay positive and know that there are a bunch of us out there who are survivors of the ultimate challenge :).

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 21st September 2012

      Hi Amber
      Welcome to Emerging from Broken! I am so sorry that your father still finds a way to get to you and that your mother lives with it still. Thank you for sharing your victory story and for your encouragement to others.
      Hugs, Darlene

  15. By: Kim Posted: 20th August 2012

    Hi Julie, i can totally relate to your situation. I myself had emotionally unavailable parents and it took me till the age of 30 to actually make the link that my parenting also led me to pick emotinally unavailble men in my life. After researching alot myself and studying a degree in early childhood and gaining the knowledge to understand how your brain and inner woking model is shaped in the early years throught the love, nurting anf interaction from your parents has helped me to change many things. Sadly thou untill you realise the dsyfunction you were brought up in and not accept it as normal then how do you begin to change?
    I am glad i had the insight to start looking deeper into my life and looking at myself as the common demoninater, i have always tried to raise my children differentely and i hope that in the early years i did enough things different to foster good emotional health in my kids but i now have the skills to guide them now and change the pattern of dysfunction that has played out in my family for many generations, my grandkids will be the most emotionally secure children and that pattern will be broken

  16. By: julie Posted: 25th July 2012

    Thanks darlene I am coming to terms with the truth and have ostrasized myself from the abusers for 2 years. As a way of setting boundaries and to heal. Just wondering how long it took you to be a peace an forgiveness and to move on as |i am not there yet, Thanks julie

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 25th July 2012

      Hi Julie
      It took me about 2-3 years in an intensive process of facing the whole truth. During that time was when I started to set boundaries. Each person is different though.
      Hugs, Darlene

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